It's finally here, boys and girls: Southeastern conference baseball. No more Bill & Marjorie and Wright Brothers Tech. Just some good ole fashioned SEC hardball.
Crap, we're going to Baton Rouge.
Welp, buckle up for a doozy of a weekend series against those Fighting Tigers. The Rebels (9-7) and No. 4 LSU (16-1) kickoff conference play this weekend with Friday's game starting at 7 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium. Game 2's first pitch is slated for 2 p.m. and Sunday's game will be at 3 p.m. and televised by SEC Network. Friday and Saturday's games can be seen on SEC Network + (EDITOR'S NOTE: SEC Network/SEC Network + are also available on Watch ESPN).
This weekend's tilt against the No. 4 team in the country (according to d1baseball.com) will be very telling of this Rebel team. Here are three questions that are begging to be answered:
Can the Rebels enter a hostile environment where they haven't won a series since 1982 and generate some offense?
If they do, that'll be bucking somewhat of a trend this season as LSU's opponents have only managed 2.8 runs per game so far. The at-bats are going to have to get better and hitters will need to work deeper into counts in order to get to LSU's three-headed weekend monster (combined 11-0 so far) early and often. There were some positive things done at the plate on Wednesday in Louisville, but Ole Miss will need that and then some this weekend to knock off the Bayou Bengals. The Rebs have already stranded 119 men on base and grounded into 17 double plays. If they don't produce more quality at-bats, this will continue to be the glaring issue of 2015.
The Rebels are led by none other than true freshman Kyle "The Electrician" Watson who is blistering the baseball at a .350 clip and seems to be settling in nicely in the leadoff role. Watson is tied for the team lead with J.B. "The Carpenter" Woodman with six doubles. But, in order for the Rebel bats to really thrive, Mike Bianco will need folks like Colby BORTLES&JAYMES and "Switch" Henri Lartigue to scare pitchers with their bats in order to protect the Mayor of #WHISKEYANDMEAT, Sikes Orvis.
How will Christian Trent handle his return to the Bayou?
It was well-documented last season that Trent would be facing his former team. For those of you that don't know, Trent redshirted at LSU in 2012 before transferring to Delgado Community College. But, in typical Trent fashion, it was just another day at the office as he went for 7.0 innings, scattered seven hits and struck out five on the way to a convincing 5-1 win.
This is 2015. And Trent is now in the Friday role. If history has shown us anything, Trent doesn't give a damn about big stages and seems to relish in primetime situations. Steady as he goes, Trent is 3-0 on the season (12-0 for his career) with a 2.96 ERA, 23 strikeouts and only seven walks. That will be needed tonight as he faces a lineup that is hitting an SEC-leading .322 and have walloped 11 home runs and 108 RBIs. Buckle that chinstrap, Christian.
Who will pitch on Sunday?
As of right now, the slated starter for Sunday's SEC Network-televised game is "TBA." This might become a trend this season unless someone steps up and takes hold of the vacant post left by Sam "Midweek Sizzle" Smith. After a serviceable 5-4 record last year on Sundays, Smith is recovering from offseason hernia surgery and it has shown. The veteran from Lake Charles, La. has been roughed up (1-2, 6.41 ERA) and is showing signs of fatigue earlier in games than usual.
Golden opportunity for someone else, right? Well, as of today, there is still no word on who that guy will be but two have jumped into the picture of late, junior and Dutchtown, La. native Jacob Waguespack and true freshman Will Stokes. Wags has been brilliant in the young season. In his 14 appearances, he's made people look stupid (0.64 ERA, nine strikeouts). His fastball has shown more life and he has been able to locate his offspeed stuff very well. Same can be said for Stokes. He leads the team with two saves and has an impressive 2.79 ERA. They both tossed in the midweek so would be available on Sunday for the series finale.
Regardless of how this weekend goes, be sure to follow along with us here at the Cup. Listed below are the game times and projected pitching matchups.
PERFECT GAME'S MOUND MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Friday, 7:00 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Ole Miss: LHP Christian Trent (3-0, 2.96 ERA, 23 K, 7 BB)
LSU: Jared Poche' (4-0, 2.08 ERA, 17 K, 8 BB)
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (2-1, 2.05 ERA, SEC-leading 34 K, 3 BB)
LSU: RHP Alex Lange (4-0, 1.57 ERA, 26 K, 8 BB)
Sunday, 3:00 p.m. CT (SECN)
Ole Miss: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
LSU: Jake Godfrey (3-0, 1.69 ERA, 11 K, 11 BB)